The Cuban Five: Spies or Heroes?

By Gualdo M. Hidalgo

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

In the late 1990s, five foreigners were arrested by the FBI.  The arrests occurred in Florida.  Those arrested were Cuban intelligence officers, who were investigating a group of right-wing Cuban die-hards, who, because they opposed Castro’s socialist regime, were blowing up buildings and killing people in Havana.

In other words, the Cuban five were soldiers in Castro’s war on homegrown terrorism. 

The FBI claimed the five foreigners were spies, so they arrested them, tried them, and sentenced them to prison.  This act increased friction between the U.S. and Cuba, where the Cuban five were (and still are) regarded as heroes.  The Cuban government has made repeated attempts to secure the release of the Cuban five, going so far as to offer the “release of all Cuban political prisoners in exchange.” 

The thesis of Gualdo Hidalgo’s insightful book is that different cultures possess different and wholly individual ways of looking at historical incidents.  Often the difference lies in each culture’s perspective of terrorism.  In other words, Hidalgo maintains that Cuba’s war on terrorism is comparable to the United State’s war on terrorism.  The separating factor is political.

What it comes down to is this:  because the U.S. regards Cuba as communist, those individuals that Cuba regards as terrorists, the U.S. regards as freedom fighters.  However, Hidalgo asserts that terrorism against any form of government is still terrorism, and cannot be countenanced.  Therefore, according to Hidalgo, the Cuban five are heroes and not spies. 

Whether or not American readers will agree with Gualdo Hidalgo depends, of course, on their specific and peculiar political viewpoints.  For Hidalgo’s viewpoint puts him on a collision course with the political milieu presently extant in the United States.  Nevertheless, The Untold Story of the Cuban Five is an important book.  For it challenges readers to understand the environmental aspects of their political persuasion.

The Untold Story of the Cuban Five is recommended reading for those interested in political history.